In October and November 2016, Marieme Daff, our Program Officer travelled to East and Southern Africa for three weeks to meet with several grantees.
Business entreprenuers selling their wares at Eco-Agric
Marieme visiting gardens with Bega kwa Bega Mobile clinics in Uganda with Bega kwa Bega
Marieme also had the opportunity to meet with The Water Trust, a US-based NGO that implements water and sanitation projects in northwestern Uganda and has since been awarded a grant to support their sanitation and hygiene work in 18 schools.
Students in northwestern Uganda
School children fetching water
Latrines slated for repair in 2017
Marieme spent several days in Malawi visiting Global Hope Mobilization and Pump Aid in the central region.
Community members using the water infrastructure Latrine blocks completed by Pump Aid
Marieme them traveled south to Blantyre to meet with our partner Action for Environmental Sustainability (AFES).
The irrigation channel supported by AFES Community members contributing labor for the project
Crops growing in fields supported by AFES
In her final week, Marieme traveled to Tanzania where she joined a group of Africa Bridge’s board members and supporters to visit their projects in the southwestern highlands.
Alfred and Marieme in Kisondela Ward
Hilda, Meyvin and Isuba in Kisondela Ward
MVCC and Co-op Members in Lufingo Ward
Caterina's Grandchildren, Kalalo, Lufingo
Overall, Marieme was very impressed with the dedication of our partners to serve rural, marginalized communities through innovative livelihood programs, top-notch water and sanitation services, adapted health support (such as mobile clinics) and other much-needed community development initiatives.
Here are a few snapshots from Georgina's recent visit to Malawi.
Community members participating in a pump maintenance training facilitated by our partner Pump Aid in Beni Village, Mchinji District, Malawi
A basic handwashing facility constructed by the community with support from Pump Aid in Yohani Village, Mchinji District, Malawi
Children having fun in Pembamayo Village, Mchinji District, Malawi
Community celebration in Kang'oma Village, Lilongwe District, Malawi with partner Global Hope Mobilization
Women's self-help group meeting at Kang'oma Village, Lilongwe District in Malawi with partner Global Hope Mobilization
A renovated water pump in Kiwalo Village, Kumponda Traditional Authority, Blantrye District in Malawi with partner Action For Environmental Sustainability (AFES)
With support from Vibrant Village Foundation, Eco-Agric is training 30 young Ugandan women in catering and hairdressing this year. Most of the students in this vocational program had dropped out of school and are now bolstering their marketable skills thanks to this initiative.
Karen Kijaru, a 23-year-old from Kitukutwe village in southern Uganda, started the program in October and had the idea to start a cake business.
Karen rented an oven and starting baking Christmas cakes to sell during the holiday season. Word about her business spread quickly and much to her surprise, the cakes were wildly popular. When Karen received the first 120,000 Uganda Shillings (UGX), or $40, from her cake business, her initial reaction was, “Oh my, I didn’t know I could do something productive.” With the profit from her first batch of cakes, Karen bought milk and clothes for her three-year-old child and paid her bills.
In the New Year, Karen’s customers continued to request cakes, which she sells for UGX 80,000 each ($26). The cakes are large, with decorated icing sugar and can serve over 60 people for birthdays and big parties. Since December, she has earned UGX 320,000 ($107).
Karen has ambitions to grow her business, but her biggest challenge is saving enough to purchase her own oven. Currently Karen rents an oven, which is costly. Having her own oven would not only save her money but give her more flexibility and control with her business, which is important for a young entrepreneur.
Eco-Agric is looking for ways to help purchase a communal oven and identify a space that would benefit Karen and others in needs of kitchen facilities for their catering businesses. Several other participants of the vocational program are interested in making bread, mandazi (fried donuts) and other items that can be sold in the local market.
Despite her short-term success, Karen recognizes the need to be patient as she stewards her new business but she is enthusiastic about the road ahead.